Hayao Miyazaki will receive a career Golden Lion at thenext Venice Film Festival, which will take place from August 31-September 10.
Itis the first time the award will be handed out to an animation filmmaker.
"HayaoMiyazaki is the giant who knocked down the walls which enclosed Japaneseanimation," said Venice artistic director Marco Mueller. "He wasdescribed as Japan's Disney in too much of a hurry, which undermined hiscreative energy and his vision which is completely out of the ordinary."
Miyazakiwill receive his prize on the Lido on September 9. The festival, which lastyear hosted the world premiere of Howl's Moving Castle, will also screenfilms from the director that had previously not found distribution in Europe orItaly.
In the meantime, Muellerconfirmed that the upcoming festival is drastically streamlining its programmein a concerted effort to avoid the organisational chaos that marred last year'sevent.
The festival will only have three sections - Competition, out-of-competition, andHorizons - with a maximum of 60 films screening in the official selection, downfrom last year's 90.
Horizons willalso be streamlined, although for the first time it will include seven60-minute documentaries, and the number of out-of-competition films will bereduced from 16 to "no more than 6."
"All the films in theofficial selection will screen in the Sala Grande, and the programme will bemuch more harmonised," Mueller told ScreenDaily.com
The Palatim tent will bereserved for a paying audience, while press screenings will be held in thePalagalileo. The festival's retrospective, which is expected to be the"Secret History of Asian Cinema," will be housed in the Sala Volpi,and the Sala Perla will host the autonomous Venice Days and Critics Weeksidebars - both of which will also reduce the number of films screening.
Schedules will also besimplified, with documentaries screening at 11am, other Horizons films between2.30 and 5 pm, competition films screening at 7 pm, and gala events between 7pmand midnight.
Last year, bothBiennale president Davide Croff and Mueller partly blamed the organisationalchaos that marred the festival on the high number of A-list stars who attendedthe festival within a few days. Many of these were accompanying the festival's16 out-of-competition titles.
However, Muellersaid that in spite of a more streamlined event, as many celebrities will be onhand as last year. "Last year, we had a problem organising andharmonising. But this year, celebrities will be organised so that there willnot be three pictures with big talent on the very same day."
Meanwhile,plans are underway for MIFED to hold a three-day market in Milan and a furtherthree days on the Lido at the beginning of the next Venice festival. The market will be housed in the Casino.
MIFED, who mooted the market's move to the Lido last year, and theBiennale, will unveil their plans later this month.
Asked whether he was wary of the MIFED'S move creating neworganisational problems for the festival, Mueller said: "No. Absolutelynot. But it is a start-up of the market. There are so few months [ahead of theevent], that it will be a premiere of a film market operation in Venice, whichcan't be everything."